Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States
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Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States

Edited by Graham K. Brown and Arnim Langer

The Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States brings together contributions from a multidisciplinary group of internationally renowned scholars on such important issues as the causes of violent conflicts and state fragility, the challenges of conflict resolution and mediation, and the obstacles to post-conflict reconstruction and durable peace-building.
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Chapter 3: Human security

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Carol Messineo


Human security is a concept that identifies the security of human lives as the central objective of national and international security policy. It contrasts with, and grew out of increasing dissatisfaction with, the state-centred concept of security as an adequate conceptual framework for understanding human vulnerabilities in the contemporary world and military interventions as adequate responses to them. As Mary Kaldor (2007) explains in her introduction to her volume Human Security, human vulnerability is pervasive, threatened by ‘new wars’ where actors are no longer states, that do not follow the rules of conduct of ‘old wars’, and that cannot be won by the means of old wars. Moreover, these new wars areintertwined with other global threats including disease, natural disasters, poverty and homelessness. ‘Yet our security conceptions, drawn from the dominant experience of the Second World War, do not reduce that insecurity; rather they make it worse’ (ibid., p. 10). Similarly, Mahbub ul-Haq proposes human security as a new paradigm of security: The concept has become increasingly widely used since the mid-1990s (Gasper 2010a). While initially used primarily with reference to state policies and the search for new international security and development agendas after the end of the Cold War, it is increasingly being used in policy advocacy by civil society groups on a broader range of contemporary issues from civil war to migration to climate change (Gasper 2010a; O’Brien et al. 2010; Truong and Gasper 2010).

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